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Ferris player Taylor Kamitomo raises the Junior Male Team of the Year trophy up as he and his teammates celebrate their selection after the annual Inland Northwest Sports Awards banquet on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011, at the Spokane Convention Center. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Coaches, players honored by SWABs

Dale Poffenroth has been part of 534 victories as a girls basketball coach – 17 years at Central Valley where his teams captured three state championships and the last seven at Coeur d’Alene where those teams also have snagged three state titles.

The one honor that had eluded him, though, is the Inland Northwest Sportswriters and Broadcasters (SWABs) Junior Female Coach of the Year.

He can add that to his resume. Poffenroth received the honor Wednesday at the annual youth luncheon at the Spokane Convention Center Ballroom.

His Coeur d’Alene team, which begins pursuit tonight for a fourth consecutive Idaho 5A state championship, was named Junior Female Team of the Year.

“I’ve always been a bridesmaid here,” said Poffenroth, who along with senior starters Carli Rosenthal and Heather Baughman headed to the airport afterward to catch a 4:15 p.m. flight to Boise where they would join the rest of the team that endured an 8-hour bus ride Wednesday.

Poffenroth thought it so important that he and a couple of players attend the awards luncheon that he had his wife, Debbie, and a daughter accompany two assistant coaches on the ride with the team to Boise.

After the luncheon, Poffenroth bemoaned the fact that his wife wasn’t in attendance to see him accept the award.

The 2011 awards banquet featured some of the best teams, athletes and coaches the Inland Northwest has seen.

Poffenroth thanked a number of people in his brief remarks, paying special tribute to former Shadle Park coach Linda Sheridan.

“To be in the same classification as Linda Sheridan is pretty neat,” Poffenroth said. “That lady is a tremendous coach and person.”

Ferris football coach Jim Sharkey was named Junior Male Coach of the Year and his 14-0 State 4A championship team was honored as Junior Male Team of the Year; Gonzaga Prep senior running back Bishop Sankey, who broke the Greater Spokane League’s single-season career rushing record, was named Junior Male Athlete of the Year; and Coeur d’Alene senior Kinsey Gomez, who captured the Idaho 5A state cross country title for a third time, was named Junior Female Athlete of the Year.

Sharkey addressed the more than 1,000 athletes, sponsors and coaches about his team’s resiliency, particularly the last two weeks of the year when a home semifinal game at snow-covered Albi Stadium had to be moved from a Saturday to a Monday showdown with Bellarmine Prep of Tacoma at the Tacoma Dome. Then the Saxons had to travel back to Tacoma three days later where they knocked off defending champ Skyline.

“Theodore Roosevelt said it best – it’s really about the men in the arena,” Sharkey said. “All the credit goes to the kids in the arena.”

Sharkey knows another undefeated season won’t be soon duplicated.

“Especially the way these kids did it,” Sharkey said. “It’s a really special group with how they handled everything. Nothing ever really affected them. It takes a real great mix the right type of kids, the work ethic, chemistry and a little bit of luck mixed together. We kind of had that all year.”

Eastern Washington University football coach Beau Baldwin, whose team captured the FSC championship, was the keynote speaker. He challenged the athletes about three things – sticking with it, enjoying the process and embracing adversity.

Baldwin recalled being a freshman at Central Washington University and calling home on one of those “big box phones (pay phone)” near Dairy Queen after being in Ellensburg for a few days. His mom challenged him to stick with it, and he wondered where he’d be today had he not taken her advice.

He admonished the athletes to “absolutely fall in love with winning that daily goal” along the journey.

Baldwin concluded with noting how the Ferris football team embraced adversity well the final week of the season.

“Life is very seldom planned,” Baldwin said. “Panic equals defeat. Once you do start to panic, you almost have no chance.”

Sankey, who is headed to the University of Washington, broke the mark (2,138) set by former Central Valley standout Tyree Clowe. Sankey finished with 2,369.

Gomez, who is going to Oregon State University, was named the Gatorade Idaho Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year the past two seasons. She captured the state title last fall in 19 minutes, 1.92 seconds – more than 30 seconds ahead of the runner-up for a second straight year.

She also won a state title as a freshman and was runner-up as a sophomore. She will be out to defend state titles in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters in track this spring.